Through 4G For All the CLA campaigns for real action that delivers better mobile coverage for landowners, farmers and rural businesses across England and Wales. The rural-digital divide in terms of mobile coverage remains shocking and the CLA is urging Ofcom to force reluctant mobile network operators to improve coverage in rural areas by imposing a legally binding 95% 4G geographic coverage target.
Keep up to date with the campaign's activities below.
As we come to the first anniversary of the #4GforAll campaign (30 January 2019), CLA Public Affairs Adviser Eleanor Wood takes a look at the significant gains over the last year. Read more here
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Today's announcement by Ofcom can be found here
A cross-party group of MPs is today (15 October 2018) recommending the introduction of a single rural mobile phone network to help further and faster delivery of 4G to the countryside.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Rural Business has published a report following its inquiry into 4G in rural areas. The report calls for the ability for mobile phone users to roam between network providers in rural areas, to help allow more people to make good quality calls and access data in the countryside.
Read the APPG for Rural Business report ‘4G in rural areas: how to close the digital divide’ here
Read the APPG meeting transcript here
More than 50 MPs have sent a joint letter (14 May 2018) to Digital Secretary Matthew Hancock asking him to challenge the current speed and ambition of 4G coverage rollout in rural areas.
The letter has been signed by 56 MPs from parties including the Conservative Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. It has been co-ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Business, which is chaired by Julian Sturdy MP (York Outer).
Read the MPs’ joint letter in full and see the list of signatories at here
The CLA has called on Ofcom to present a stronger challenge to mobile network operators on improving 4g coverage in the countryside (3 May 2018).
In its response to the Ofcom consultation on coverage obligations in the award of the 700 MHz spectrum band, the CLA has pointed to the reluctance of mobile operators to deliver coverage in rural areas on their own initiative and asked Ofcom to take a more robust stance to best serve the interests of consumers.
New information shows that mobile network operators are failing to submit planning applications for new mobile phone masts to resolve the coverage in some of the worst served rural areas.
In Rutland (which has the worst 4G coverage of any local authority area in England or Wales at 3.42% 4G indoor coverage from all operators) not one planning application for a new mast was made by any mobile operator in 2015, 2016 or 2017. Other rural local authority areas where no applications were made in any of those three years include Tunbridge Wells.
The CLA, which represents 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales, obtained the new data through Freedom of Information requests to planning authorities across England and Wales.
CLA Deputy President Mark Bridgeman said: “This new data shows what rural communities have suspected for a long time, that the mobile industry is willing to abandon rural areas to the digital wilderness.
“Three years ago, we were told that coverage would be delivered in the countryside and yet rural communities are still waiting. In the same period the mobile industry has extracted concession after concession from Ministers. They have got the new legal powers they wanted, on the basis that they are a utility service. Now they must be forced to deliver the universal service that a utility operator provides. We expect government and the regulator to take a tough line on this, and if Ofcom won’t then Ministers must step in.”
The CLA has highlighted Ofcom’s failure to push mobile network operators to achieve universal coverage for consumers. It is calling on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to review Ofcom’s statutory remit and confirm that the body should prioritise working towards universal, quality mobile coverage for consumers.
Read the full article here 08 April 2018
To help highlight the lack of 4G connectivity in rural areas the CLA undertook an analysis of the number of applications rural local authorities had received for mobile telephone masts over the last three years. The results show that mobile network operators are failing to submit planning applications for new mobile phone masts to resolve the coverage in some of the worst served rural areas. In some areas with the worst coverage no new applications for masts have been submitted.
The data was gathered using Freedom of Information Requests in the early part of 2018.
To read the analysis in full click here.
Campaigners are calling for urgent action following the revelation that in 14 rural local authority areas in England, four out of five households do not receive 4G mobile coverage from all the big four mobile providers.
As of the end of 2017 there are no legal targets in place to ensure the mobile network operators invest in improvements. The CLA, which represents 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales, has asked Ofcom to force reluctant mobile network operators to improve coverage in rural areas by imposing a legally binding coverage target on their operating licences. It is calling for EE, O2, Vodafone and Three to be required to deliver 4G coverage to 95% of the UK geographic landmass on all networks by 2022.
Analysis of Ofcom data conducted by the CLA shows that while 4G can currently be accessed on all host networks across 58% of the UK, rural areas are served the worst. The ten local authority areas with the lowest rates of indoor 4G coverage in England are all given the most rural Government classification of ‘Mainly Rural’, and have indoor 4G coverage of less than 15%. The worst served are Rutland (3.42%), Ribble Valley (6.37%) and Maldon (8.63%).
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer, who farms in Cambridgeshire, said: “These figures lay bare the extent to which those living and working in rural areas are cast out into the digital wilderness. It also poses serious questions about what commitment, if any, the mobile operators have to delivering coverage in rural areas. Delivering this mobile coverage is vital to boosting the economy, providing safety and improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Read the full article here 01 February 2018
Eight of ten people across the countryside do not have access to 4G mobile coverage, according to a report by the telecoms regulator Ofcom published today (15 December).
Figures in the Connected Nations report reveal just how slow progress has been in delivering 4G mobile in rural areas. Only 18% of people can access 4G coverage in their rural homes and businesses compared to 64% in urban areas.
The CLA which campaigns for better broadband for landowners, farmers and rural businesses condemned the figures.
CLA Deputy President Mark Bridgeman said: “It is ridiculous that eight out of ten people in rural areas still do not have access to more than one of the major mobile operators. The existing target for mobile coverage is pathetically unambitious, and as of January there will be no target at all. These figures are an indictment of the weak position the Government and Ofcom have taken with the industry. Time and again they have rolled over to industry demands and rural communities are still being cut off from the digital economy.
Read the full article here 15 December 2017
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